WITH five weeks to go before the U17 Women’s National League season kicks off, Cork City WFC manager Sarah Healy, along with her backroom staff, brought her 20-strong squad panel to Lilliput Adventure Centre in Westmeath as part of a bonding session, which proved to be a very worthwhile experience.
The weekend was a huge success in terms of friendships made — and Healy hopes it was the beginning of an enjoyable season ahead.
“We had an unbelievable weekend where the girls laughed from start to finish and was our main aim for the trip,” said Healy.
“We felt it was important for a trip of it’s kind in order for the girls to get to know one another in a different capacity other than football and I can honestly say, even though the conditions were really cold, it certainly didn’t dampen the mood of the girls, who were a credit throughout the weekend.
“On a personal note I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
“The players were fantastic. I have to thank all the coaching staff as they were amazing this weekend, and I appreciate all the work they have done and are doing.
“I would also like to thank the parents for their support in allowing the girls away for the weekend.
“We are all so excited for the start of the season now and I have no doubt that the bond the girls developed over the weekend will play a huge part when they get on the pitch for the new season.”
Assistant manager Craig Hurley said the trip strengthened the squad for the season ahead. “The aim of the trip was to help strengthen the squad for the season ahead,” said Hurley.
“I feel like we accomplished this aim during the weekend and now we need to build on this momentum over the next four weeks before our first league game.
“It was a really successful trip for the team, as they really got to know each other, which is so important in a league like this that the bond is strong.
“We laughed, worked hard, and, most importantly, had fun.
“We could see the friendships grow in front of us and the squad getting tighter as the days went by.
“Lilliput really looked after us and it’s a great facility.
“We did night-time hikes, orienteering, wall climbing, capture the flag, bog runs, and all different games which all require teamwork.
“It was great for the staff to watch them come up with ways to win and being creative and competitive to win all the games and of course we joined in the activities as well to show them how it’s done,” said Hurley, laughing.
“The players have hopefully made memories that will last a lifetime after this weekend.
“The players were a credit to themselves and their families as their behaviour was superb. The coaching staff were proud of the team for this.”
U17 player Jesse Mendez loved the experience and felt it was the perfect opportunity to get to know the squad in a different capacity outside of football.
“We all had an absolutely fantastic weekend from start to finish,” said Mendez.
“I thought it was a brilliant way to get to know all the girls on the team, especially the players from outside of Cork.
“When you meet them for training it can be quite difficult to get to know them properly as there isn’t a lot of time for talking so in that respect last weekend was a perfect opportunity.
“We all got on so well and every one of us enjoyed every second of the weekend, even under the freezing cold conditions.
“We got to do some great activities which were challenging at times but at the same time, a lot of fun.
“Staying in large dorms was ideal as we were all together and let’s just say, we made up for the talking that we may have missed out on over the past few months.
“We also did without our phones for the majority of the day, and again this was another great idea by the managers, although it may not have seemed that way when we were told, but it was another great way for us all to get to know one another and have the craic without being stuck on our phones.
“It was equally a great way to mix with the managers and coaches in a different atmosphere.
“They were great craic especially Craig, who was the biggest child of us all,” said a laughing Mendez.
“We now turn our focus to the next four weeks before our first game of the season on April 7 at home to Greystones, which we all are very excited about.”